30 Under 30 Award (Zagat)
We knew that Seattle was bursting at the seams with young talent. We just didn't know how amazing the scene has become. For the first time ever, we're profiling the best food industry pros under 30. From twin sister pretzel-makers to a second-generation oenologist who made his first wine as a teenager, these young guns will have your jaws dropping. Read on to get the scoop about these 30 rising stars.
Shota Nakajima, 26
Nakajima spent the first three months of his job at Sakamoto in Osaka scrubbing his chef’s shoes and sorting rice, an experience he says helped him learn patience and perfection. After spending five years in Japan — and graduating from the Tsuji Culinary Arts Institute — he came back to Seattle to open Naka. And though he’s retained much of that discipline, it’s not uncommon to hear him singing “Hakuna Matata” in the kitchen. As for his seasonal kaiseki menu, “It doesn’t matter if 999 people don’t get it; it’s that one person that gets it. Cooking with that mentality is the only way you get better.”